Seafood from Scotland promote this country's high quality
seafood and they have given us this recipe from Chef Reekie.
It is taken from their rather lovely e-book The Story of Scottish Seafood.
Gordon Reekie has cheffed at Glasgow's Rogano and seafood has long been a passion of his.
These days, Gordon and his brother are rediscovering Scottish cuisine through their foodie brand, That’s Yer Dinner.
We have an interview with Gordon before his recipe for coley, mussel ragu and creamed peasemeal with oyster leaf and fennel tips.
Do you enjoy cooking with seafood?
Definitely. Fish is more subtle and delicate than meat, and there’s something about cooking it that’s very satisfying. You also pick up new skills if you cook a lot with fish throughout your career. At Rogano, I had to learn how to prepare oysters, which are difficult to open. However, I soon picked it up after shucking around 300-400 a day! Oysters have played a huge role in my career, including winning the 2018 Scottish Oyster Shucking Championships.
Where do you find your cooking inspiration from?
I follow seafood chefs Nathan Outlaw and Tom Brown - I would describe their cooking as simplicity with wonderful execution. I also worked closely with Andy Cummings, who was head chef at Rogano during my time there. He brought me into Rogano and took me under his wing. And, of course, my mum was the one who first introduced me to cooking and showed me the ropes.
What is the most challenging seafood you have cooked with?
During the preparation for one of our tasting menu evenings, we decided to make a seaweed butter to serve with the bread. We hadn’t worked with a lot of seaweed at the time but were hoping for something like nori – a smoky, mineral, complex taste. However, for some reason we just asked the fishmonger for the generic 'seaweed' and ended up with a bin bag full of long, tangled, sandy algae!
We eventually identified it as bladderwrack and confirmed it was edible. We washed, oven dried, dehydrated and powdered the seaweed, then added it through a compound butter. When all of this was done, we were shocked to discover what we had made was closer in flavour to a caramel or butterscotch than the savoury treat we had set out to make. We’ve since added this butter to cakes and desserts with great feedback.
What’s your seafood guilty pleasure?
You can’t go wrong with a large plate of Scottish langoustines cooked with garlic butter and served with a cold glass of white wine.
Coley, mussel ragu and creamed peasemeal with oyster leaf and fennel tips
This is a little more complex than most recipes we have on the blog. However, while there are several stages to the dish, each process is pretty straightforward.
Gordon: This recipe draws on a number of my favourite dishes and cuisines I have learned about over the years, notably a French beurre blanc and the Italian creamed polenta, both of which played a big part for me when I was learning to cook professionally. However, they have been adapted to focus in on Scotland – everything on the dish can be sourced in Scotland. Ingredients such as the peasemeal and coley (sometimes known as saithe) are not substitutes for others; they emphasise the outstanding quality of the overlooked Scottish larder.
500g Shetland mussels
240g Scottish coley
2 sticks of celery
1 fennel (keep tips aside for garnish)
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
3 oyster leaves
100ml double cream
100g unsalted butter
50g salted butter
Finely dice the peeled carrot, celery, fennel and shallots taking care to keep them all the same size. Crush the garlic, but keep it in one piece to remove later.
Cut the coley into two equal pieces and remove the skin. Combine the sugar and salt and evenly coat the fish. Let the fish cure for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry.
Cook the mussels with white wine, one clove of garlic and thyme. Once open, pass the now mussel stock through a sieve and reserve. Pick the mussels and set aside.
Begin by sweating the carrot, celery, fennel, shallots, and garlic without colour in a heavy based pot. Once soft, add the reserved mussel stock and reduce.
At this point, start cooking the coley in a non-stick pan over a medium high heat, keeping a close eye on it. You are looking to cook it three-quarters of the way on one side before turning to finish.
In a separate pot, bring the cream and salted butter to a simmer, whisk in the peasemeal until smooth, and check the seasoning. It should be creamy and rich like the Italian creamed polenta.
Whisk the unsalted butter through the veg and stock to make a light butter sauce, and add the picked mussels. Check for seasoning, as it may need a dash of lemon juice and salt.
To plate, create three rough quenelles using the peasemeal. Position them on the left side of the plate and place an oyster leaf on top of each, spoon the mussel mix in a straight line down the middle and place the fish on the other side of the line.